The book collects Marvel Adventures Spider-man #58-61 with four fairly stand alone tales with small additions to the overall story arc. The title, however, is not exactly accurate. The X-men only make an appearance in #59, but their part of the tale is a humorous bit that super fans will enjoy. In this series, Peter Parker is a high school student with a friend, Gwen, who is the daughter of a police officer, and a girlfriend, Chat, who can talk to animals. In these episodes, while engaging in his usual Spidey antics, he is offered a position at a superhero detective agency and has a $500,000 bounty put on his head by some mafia guys. Peter navigates all of this while worrying about a fight he had with his girlfriend, and the story builds from there.
The beauty of the Marvel Adventures is that they are so self-contained. You need very little back story to enjoy the tales, although knowing who the X-men are would make the second story more enjoyable. These issues are also designed to be accessible to all ages combining fun, zippy stories with some emotional depth that older readers will appreciate. This one in particular really shows the mindset of a high school boy who is taking on too much. I especially like the ethical dilemma of whether or not Spider-man should be working for money or with any organized group. It feels very true to other incarnations of the character but with a spin unique to this series.
The art is fun, leaning more toward a detailed, stylized portrayal of Peter as a gangly teen, as he is in this alternate universe series. However, the classic characters are recognizable with a fun battle between Spider-man and the X-men that is done well, with reasonable character continuity. The different artists of the issues within the series do have different styles, but it isn’t too distracting.
Overall, this is a nice addition to the Spider-man canon, though I think many readers would want the digest versions before and after this volume, which could be an expensive prospect. There are quite a few details that would be better explained from the beginning and some plotlines that aren’t fully wrapped up by the end since it is a series. However, if your library has the budget for it, this seems like a great addition for a number of age groups.
Marvel Adventures Spider-man: Peter Parker Vs. the X-men
by Paul Tobin
Art by Matteo Lolli, Ben Dewey, Christian Nauck
Marvel Worldwide, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages